Bug Out Bags for Dogs, by James from upstate NY

Bugging out is a plan during a disaster situation for most preppers, and most spend numerous hours planning out what items to put into their B.O.B (bug out bag). In the area of prepping, it seems that the natural focus in on having a bug out bag. You can picture in your mind the last disaster, whether it be natural or man-made, that you watched unfold on your nightly news and then envision you and your family leaving ahead of the undoubtedly numerous people who waited too long. Having a bug out bag for you and your family members is only logical.

Now if you are a responsible owner of the more than 137. 2 million pet dogs in America, then you’ve probably thought of the logistics of caring for your dogs’ needs in an emergency bug out situation. A logical solution would be a bug out bag for your dog. These bags/packs are capable of most if not all of your dog’s needs. With a bug out bag for your dog, you can ensure your dog is as prepared in any disaster situation as you are. If the dog is not large enough, then you will need to make an allotment in your own bug out bag. If the dog is large enough, then there are numerous bags/packs on the market, depending on whether you want a more tactical set up, like the One Tigris tactical MOLLE dog vest or the Caliberdog K-9 tactical MOLLE vest, both of which allow you to purchase MOLLE pouches to customize your pet’s vest, or a more urban saddlebag type pack, such as the Ruffwear pack or the Mountainsmith model, which comes in three sizes up to approximately 32 liters. Saddlebag type packs usually consist of two or more large pockets or saddlebags. These saddlebags will usually have zippers or some other form of fasteners and can even be waterproof. Either way, the larger the dog the larger the bag/pack, therefore the more stuff you can fit in them.

Before purchasing a bag/pack, you will have to measure your dog. To do this, you will need a tape measure. Measure the circumference of the dog’s chest to determine the size of the tactical vest or saddlebag type bag or pack. Once you have purchased the bag or pack, you will need to fit it on the dog. To do so, place the middle of the backpack or bag on your dog’s back. The straps will fit around the waist and chest of your dog. Clamp the plastic buckle, which looks like a small seatbelt, in the middle of the dog’s chest. Make sure there is no fur caught in the buckle. Adjust the strap coming out of the plastic buckle to tighten the bag or pack. Pull the strap until you can snugly fit your pinkie finger in between your dog’s chest and the buckle. This will allow enough room for the dog to move and to breathe, all while keeping the pack from slipping off. Repeat the above with the other strap and buckle on the rear of the dog.

Now that you have purchased a bag or pack and properly fitted it on your dog, it’s time to fill the bag or pack with what supplies your dog will need. Let’s take a look at the basic prepping items you would need in a bug out bag– food, water, shelter, and of course protection. Most of the items are the same for a bug out bag for your dog. A word of caution: be sure to keep your dog’s bag or pack weight as evenly distributed as possible.

Water and Food

First, let’s cover water and food. When packing water, it depends on the breed of your pet, but the rule of thumb is one half gallon per pet per day. Water storage is all about preference. There are numerous types of bladders, canteens, or water bottles on the market. When packing water, consider using several containers so that you may adjust the distribution of water as it is consumed. Again, with the topic of food, it’s about preference. Some will want to try all sorts of combinations of things to reduce weight, but remember if your dog is not used to the food then you run the risk of the pet getting an upset stomach resulting in digestive issues. So, go with the old standby kibble. Pack about three days’ worth of food, much the same as you would in your own bag or pack. Again, as you did with the water, consider dividing the food into several meal-size portions for easier weight distribution. Another consideration is to pack two or more tubes, depending on the size of your dog, of Nutri-Cal concentrated dog food. This is a good source of food for a sick dog that won’t eat. Giving one teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight will help keep your dog alive, if you run out of food or as a supplement to help stretch your dog’s food supply. This is a good standby to have. One tube will keep a small dog well fed without any additional food source for approximately four to five days. To go with the water and food, you’re going to want to include a collapsible bowl. As with bags and packs, there are many varieties on the market.

Shelter, Clothing, Protection, and Hygiene

We will not cover shelter, as your dog will most likely be with you in your shelter. The topic of clothing is relatively easy for most dogs, but in some special cases it may require that you pack or outfit your dog with a sweater or in extreme situations a jacket. Another consideration is a relatively new product on the market called a Thundershirt. A Thundershirt applies gentle constant pressure, similar to swaddling an infant. It is used for all types of anxiety, fear, and over excitement. Protection will also be disregarded, as it is not really needed. However, a few things that do need to be added to the bag or pack are a leash, muzzle, nail clippers, and doggie waste bags. In place of doggie waste bags, you could just include several Ziploc baggies. Ziploc baggies prior to being used for waste disposal can be used for other purposes as well. These are all things necessary for your pet’s safety and hygiene.


Speaking of safety, let’s cover a few safety additions for the dog’s bag or pack. Every bug out bag needs a first aid kit. You have one in your bag, so why wouldn’t your dog have one in their own. Like bags or packs or collapsible bowls, there are numerous first aid kits on the market such as the Alcott Explorer. Some people will prefer to make their own first aid kit instead of purchasing one. If you choose to build one, then there are a few things you should include: scissors, several gauze pads or medical cotton squares, alcohol wipes, instant cold compress (cold mud works in a pinch), medical and adhesive tape, tweezers, a small tube of antiseptic cream, 10 to 20 cotton balls, vet wrap (like an Ace bandage for animals and it sticks to itself, which is very handy), 12-hour emergency bright sticks. (Hang one on your dog at night.) Be sure to pack these items in Ziploc baggies to water proof them. Also, If your pet is on any special medication, it is important to keep a supply of medication in the bag or pack, much the same as you would for yourself. In areas where poisonous snakes are, it is also recommended that you include a snake bite kit. Also, in a disaster situation, the terrain could get rough so throw in a set of doggie booties. Most animals do not like things on their feet, so be sure to occasionally place them on your dog’s feet for familiarity.

Comfort and Options

Lastly come the optional things or comfort items. You could pack some treats or even a toy, whether it be a chew toy or similar type toy in the dog’s bag or pack. A bug out scenario is very stressful on you as well as your dog, so they will appreciate a treat or toy at the end of the day. You may want to include a few extra items in your dog’s bag or pack, such as a tie out approximately 10 to 15 feet, for making sure your pooch does not wander off. A leash, which not only will provide you with the ability to maintain control over your dog, could also be used to tie your dog out at night. A muzzle would be useful in case you encounter other dogs. Also, be sure to include an “admin pouch” (a Ziploc bag containing your dog’s vaccination records, their name, and pertinent identifying information). You could also include, if room is available, some redundant items like a compass, a small flashlight with extra batteries, water purification tablets, 16-hour hand warmers, and a mylar blanket. Last, but not least, several companies make a collapsible canvas dog crate. While this is an option, it also should be stated that they are bulky and weigh a substantial amount, so it may not be a consideration for many.

Much like you would do with your bag or pack, take your dog along with his bag or pack out into the great outdoors and give the bag or pack a test run. Practice your survival tactics and make minor adjustments to this bag or pack as you may see fit.